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Spring Cleaning with Spring Gleaning: Guide to the Best Herbs to Grow at Home Right Now

Spring is here! And so is the beginning of fresh blooming plants, including crops. This means fresher cooking, maybe even barbecuing for those in warmer states, and many new herbs and spices to choose from.

So, what are the best herbs/spices to grow at home?

The best herbs/spices to grow at home are ones that can serve many purposes beyond culinary ones if that’s what you’re desiring. The great thing is that there are so many herbs out there with different flavors that no two people’s taste buds experience identically and different therapeutic traits, so it’s pretty subjective on which herb is best. This spring herb guide will get you to the right answer for you and how to spring harvest your selected herbs.

What herbs grow in spring? What herbs are good to plant now?

Right now, the herbs to grow and plant in spring are these core nine:

BASIL

Yes, basil can be used for more than spaghetti (though it’s amazing as so!).

What are the benefits of eating basil?

The benefits of eating basil are endless. Basil is an excellent nutrient source full of vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It also has good amounts of calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids per serving. Even more, basil isn’t simply for internal use, but it can also be used for cuts, wounds, and skin infections when its oils are extracted into essential oil. Having a flavor that’s so layered, it can work just as beneficially taste-wise in surprising ways with other choices of foods. In any given bite, basil can take one on a sweet and savory ride, with hints of mint, anise, and especially black pepper in the first moments, before settling as an overall hint of sweetness.

MINT

This is a no-brainer. Often described as sweet and a lingering cool on the tongue, mint perfectly exemplifies the spring season in food form like misty, cleaning rain, and the sweetness of the blooming flowers it leaves in the air after.  

But it serves more than a cute appeal. It actually can be a threat-to bugs! You only have to plant mint right the first time and you’ll see it return every year, deterring bugs from entering your home since it they don’t like the plant. Mint can grow well even in the shade, just as one enjoys an ice-cold lemonade with a mint sprig under that same shade on a hot day.

THYME

Here is another multifaceted flavor. Fresh thyme has a pronounced, concentrated herbal flavor with sharp grass, wood, and floral notes (like lavender and rosemary). Yet it also brings on a mint taste.

Plus, for those who struggle to grow plants well, this one essentially can’t be killed and can make it off of little to no water. The drought-tolerant herb should be planted in spring in a full-sun location with little water and plenty of room to spread. As it grows, snip off flowers to get more leaves.

PARSLEY

With such a clean essence and notes of peppery earthiness, parsley is a great all-rounder in the kitchen. Pair it with yogurt, pasta, or any other idea you can imagine. Just as accommodating as it is with dishes, it is also reasonable when growing. It does so best in 60-to-65-degree weather, (hence: perfect springtime growing!). Plant parsley in well-drained soil and full sun, then harvest the outer leaves. Its gentle flavor quietly enhances most cuisines without being too extreme for those with sensitive palates, not to mention, it is very nutritious.

ROSEMARY

The first plus about rosemary?

It’s a slow-growing plant, but it is also easy to grow to thrives year-round, which means that if you’ve ever struggled to garden or struggle with a green thumb, you have a surefire success in this choice. Mature plants like full sun and well-drained soil.

Its other selling point is its uses. Its needle-like leaves give a piney flavor that works great for savory, garlicky dishes and meats. But it can also make for a great tea, especially when seasonal allergies hit. Try steeping a rosemary leaf in hot water for 10 minutes to get a taste of soothing.

SAGE

This plant is another thriving herb-all year long since it is a perennial. Just ensure that it has full sunlight and good drainage. Moving beyond that soil to the plate, sage is just as convenient, It goes with all poultry dishes, and the leaves can be simply flour-fried in organic olive oil and served as a light, elegant appetizer with some wine, fresh figs, and cubed cheese. It’s also spring defined with its purple flowers that fit well in a fragrance garden.

CHAMOMILE

Spring always conjures up the soothing images and smell of lavender and chamomile. You can’t have one without the other. Aside from the great relaxation that it delivers in body baths, lotions, and the like, chamomile is just as easy on the horticulturalists as it is on their soul. Simply plant it in early spring in full sun or partial shade to yield, what’s known to be, an apple-and-honey-flavored botanical to relieve your stress-caused physical problems. Collect the plant’s flower itself to receive these healing properties, then mix it into tea, honey, or your front yard’s garden to bring comfort inside and out.

NASTURTIUMS

If you have an especially bad green thumb, then these herbs are the way to go. Nasturtiums is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants you’ve probably never heard the name of if you’re not a gardener or botanist, but have more-than-likely seen it all around you with its gorgeous blossom. However, don’t let the prettiness fool you. These are actually very low-maintenance, virtually needing none of it at all. Since they have little to no soil amendments, they can thrive on neglect. You also don’t have to plant many of them, which cuts down on gardening time even more. Why? A single plant is enough to supply a bounty. Just overnight soak them in late spring before placing their seeds into your garden bed. Keep the soil damp until germination, then lightly mulch around the seedling and water during dry periods for about 20 days, at which point you can start snipping leaves. Flowering takes about two months and lasts through summer and fall.

To eat (And yes, flowers can be eaten!), layer the bright-green leaves in sandwiches or blend them into soups, sauces, and dressings. You’ll discover a surprising radish-like flavor, quite distinct to their sweet appearance.

CILANTRO. A.K.A. CORIANDER

Some say it tastes like soap, others say it’s fresh and citrusy. We’ve all had it at one point or another if we’ve dipped tortilla chips in some fresh guacamole, but why or HOW does it possibly pair so well with yogurt sauce? Though it’s easy for us to forget or be deceived about its flavor under all of the piping heat it complements in its usual spicy dishes, cilantro alone actually has a cooling effect, like mint. Some comment that it has a mild spiciness, similar to parsley, though, so that can be an exciting blend for those who have palates experiencing it in that way.

Cilantro grows best in cool weather and, in most places, can be planted from February through May for a summer harvest. In hotter areas, though, cilantro grows best in fall. If you decide to grow your own coriander, collect as needed, cutting the outside stems and keeping the soil moist but not soggy. If left to flower, cilantro should reseed itself each year.

How to keep coriander (cilantro) fresh-and all herbs for that matter?

Keep coriander (cilantro) fresh, along with other herbs, by soaking it in water in two ways:

PLAIN WATER SOAKING: TO KEEP HERBS FRESH FOR UP TO 2 WEEKS

  • Trim the ends of the herb’s leaves and wash them thoroughly.
  • Dry the leaves (How to dry culinary herbs? Dry herbs by simply using a paper towel. Lay the herb leaves flat on the paper and dab within the fold of the paper.)
  • Using cool water, fill a quarter of a large, lidless glass jar that’s used for canning and food storage or tall ribbed glass bottle with a small opening that will minimize air penetration and the leaves from being able to get into the bottom half of the bottle (you’ll see why soon).
  • Submerge the stem ends of the herb leaves inside of the jar, keeping the leaves above the water. Place a zip-lock bag on the top of the glass. Let the opening of the bag remain loose and keep the jar along with the cover in the refrigerator.
  • Change the water every 2 to 3 days in order to keep the cilantro and your other herbs fresh for up to two weeks.

TURMERIC WATER SOAKING: TO KEEP HERBS FRESH FOR 2-3 WEEKS

  • Buy or get fresh herb leaves and cut the muddy roots from the bunch.
  • Now, take an easy to fill, wide mouth glass container that has a lid, add water and a teaspoonful of turmeric powder to it.
  • Dip the leaves in the turmeric water for about 30 minutes.
  • Take out the herb leaves and wash and dry them.
  • Once dry, take a new similar container, fill the bottom with a paper towel, add the dried leaves inside, make another layer of paper towel on the top of the leaves, and close the lid properly to make it airtight.
  • Store the container in the refrigerator for two to three weeks.

Now with the proper spring herbs to guide you towards healthy, flavorful cooking, you can now enjoy some new springtime recipes with a twist, like maybe even ones with herb yogurt sauce!

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